by April Kiekintveld, Recruitment and Retention Specialist, Bethany Christian Services of Michigan, Holland
Perhaps you or someone you know has a heart for foster care but isn’t ready just yet to become a foster parent. We understand foster parenting isn’t for everyone, but there are many ways to be involved that can make things easier for families that are providing care.
Below are eight ideas you can share to encourage friends and family members to get involved.
Get Your Church Involved
Help church staff create a list of families who are currently providing foster care.
- Use that list to periodically deliver meals, gift cards, or notes to encourage them and let them know they are not alone.
- In addition to names and contact information, assemble information like their favorite foods, food aversions/allergies, children’s names and ages, and prayer requests so you can provide support in a personal way.
Hold a gift-card drive once or twice a year, and randomly send them to foster families.
- These could be gift cards for groceries, household items, or family entertainment. The gift amount can be modest—it’s just an opportunity to send a note and enclose a small gift to let the family know the church is praying for them.
- Consider gift cards to restaurants that deliver, and enclose a take-out menu if possible.
Organize a children’s clothing drive.
- Many children come into foster care with only the clothes they are wearing. Collect gently used items such as clothing, sleepers/pajamas, and coats. Collect new socks and underwear in a variety of sizes.
- Keep a “free closet” at your church for foster families or donate items to a local agency that can immediately distribute these items.
Organize periodic respite nights for foster parents at your church.
- Respite nights are defined times when foster parents can drop their kids off for a few hours and enjoy some time to themselves.
- Your church would be responsible for recruiting volunteers for this event. It would be wise to work with a local agency to host an event like this, not only to reach local foster families but to provide trauma training to your volunteers.
- Your church could also contact other churches in the area who are already doing this and provide volunteers. Your local agency may know about events like these at area churches.
Families come to Bethany hoping to adopt a child for many reasons. We work closely with these families to identify their strengths and the child they are most able to parent and we help place children of all ages, cultures, and backgrounds in the safety of a loving home.